Why You Need An Estate Plan

Why do I need a will or a trust? Let my kids deal with it. When I’m gone, I’m gone. I don’t want to talk about it. They’re going to inherit it all anyway, why should I waste my time? My kids are ungrateful, I’m going to spend it all. I’m young and healthy and have my whole life ahead of me, why should I bother?  

Believe it or not, I have heard these and similar statements too many times to count in the 18 years I have been practicing law as a trusts and estates attorney in Florida.

What surprised me even more, at least in the beginning, was that many of the people without an estate plan or even an interest in creating a successful plan were older, educated, and successful. Naturally, the average college-aged adult has little interest in planning for the inevitable. I was 18 once and in college and I felt invincible! 

Many friends and colleagues who are in their 20s and 30s have started families and are focused on work and raising their children. Drawing up a will or talking to an attorney about their possible death or incapacity are the furthest thoughts from their minds. 

Today, however, more than ever, I am getting calls from my friends from high school and college, as well as twenty, thirty, and forty-year olds who have never given any consideration to an estate plan. COVID-19 has forced all of us to rethink life and our priorities and face our own mortality and the uncertainty of life.

People who never had any desire to contemplate these things are now meeting with attorneys, often for the first time in their lives, discussing things like guardianship and trusts for their children, as well as putting their own health care wishes into writing in the form of a Living Will, and naming a Health Care Proxy, as well as a Power of Attorney, and making provisions for disposition of their assets in the form of estate planning vehicles ranging from simple wills to Living and Irrevocable Trusts. With the uncertainty of COVID-19, younger adults, especially those with children are anxious to meet with counsel to ensure that their children are cared for and their assets are properly managed in the event of an untimely death or incapacity.

The reality is, planning your legacy is an important right and responsibility each of us has. Regardless of the fact that we are in the midst of a global pandemic that seems to affect both young and old, and regardless of your personal or family situation and net worth, every adult needs to make their wishes known in writing legally regarding the disposition of their property, the management of their affairs, their healthcare wishes should they become incapacitated, and care provisions for their minor children. 

Today there are plenty of “do it yourself” options available online and in brick and mortar stores, where you can purchase official looking documents and fill them out, hopefully researching what requirements your state has in place to make these documents “official.” The bad news is a slight mistake or omission (like not having the right number of witnesses) could render the documents invalid and thrown out of court for purposes of probate. A consultation with a qualified attorney can save you and your loved ones lots of headaches and heartache. 

Simple estate planning isn’t that costly or complicated. Do it yourself options are often under $100, but come with a laundry list of pitfalls and you are taking your chances going without sound legal advice. A phone call and a brief consultation can save you and your family thousands or millions of dollars and hours, and maybe years of grief. An attorney can draft a simple will and related documents for under $1,000. This relatively small investment up front can save you big time later on. 

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